In those cases, we try our best to support Fair Trade products. We buy fair trade coffee, chocolate, olive oil, palm & coconut oil, sugar, and bananas. We support businesses, like Dr. Bronner's and Jungle Products, in addition to a host of local perveyors that support fair trade practices (see below).
Some people think this effort is nothing more than touchy-feely-mumbo-jumbo (and others argue that Fair Trade practices are silly, at best, and harmful, at worst). I'd like to challenge that way of thinking by asking you to contemplate what Fair Trade is really all about.
Free trade around the globe is a great concept. International trade engenders continual innovation. It enables healthy competition and enables the creation of better products, better-paying jobs, new markets, and increased savings and investment. And what better way is there to share goods & services while maintaining a competitive advantage?
Well, the fact of the matter is the unregulated free trade in which we've been participating for years has actually caused numerous problems for both the United States and other nations. Companies have begun to move their operations overseas to minimize cost and maximize profits. Sweatshop labor has increased. Americans have lost jobs. Unregulated imported products (like toys, tuna, and dog food) have become unsafe. Just check out this article on Trade Deficit in Food Safety put out by the Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch.
Fair trade, on the other hand, is a system of exchange created to regulate the free trade system. Fair trade is a social movement that creates partnerships between nations, ensures fair wages, and promotes decent working conditions.
A couple of common myths about Fair Trade include:
- Fair trade results in sub-standard products (variation among artisan products is common, but fair trade products are consistently of high quality)
- Fair trade products are more expensive (simply not true -- most products are competitively priced, if not cheaper, since no money goes to a "middle man")
Among the local (Milwaukee) businesses who offer fair trade products, here are a few of our favorite places to get fair trade foodstuffs:
Beans & Barley Market, Deli, and Cafe
Outpost Natural Foods Coop
Stone Creek Coffee
For those of you within throwing distance, I'd encourage you to check out the 2nd Annual Milwaukee Fair Trade Crawl, which takes place tomorrow, Saturday May 9th. The crawl includes more than 30 shops offering discounts, tastings, educational events and other specials. Organizers are actually hoping to set the record for the world's largest fair trade break. So JOIN US if you can!
Do you support Fair Trade? If so, what are some of your favorite Fair Trade products?
This post is submitted as part of Fight Back Fridays, a weekly event hosted by Food Renegade featuring great, educational blog posts from those of us who opt out of the industrialized food system, distrust standard nutritional advice, and embrace Real Food. There are some great posts going on this week... check them out!
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